Getting a cell signal in Heart’s Content can be difficult. Finding areas where your phone reads “no service” is far easier. It’s ironic, really, since the town was once a communications hub. But that was before cell phones – and even before land lines.
The first telegraph line to connect Europe to North America came ashore at Heart’s Content in 1866; the telegraph office was built in 1875 and was operated by a British company who brought over managers and telegraph operators. These upper level employees were housed in the style they were accustomed to back home, in homes with formal dining rooms and parlours, served by a staff of hired help in houses at the top of the hill.
The town was home to a communications station of global importance, and these were the people hired to make it all work. In Heart’s Content they were important people living in important houses. Although many of the town’s old buildings have been lost, there are still a few surviving homes. One of those, a Victorian duplex, has been lovingly restored to its original state by Lynda and Ed Moss and named the Cable House.
The cable station closed in 1965, put out of commission by advances in technology. But when it was operating, the employees directly under the manager were considered – and considered themselves – upper class citizens, and they lived in these luxurious attached houses. These restored cable houses now stand as a reminder of what life was once like.
After completing the renovations, Lynda got a sense of what those times were like when an older lady stopped by to see the house. She was just a young girl when the cable station operators lived in the house, and she remembers stopping in to visit her friend from school. Because the two were deemed to be in different social classes, the girl was never allowed into the house. She was, says Lynda, brought to tears by the sight of the restored home’s interior.
Before Lynda and Ed took over the restoration work, Lynda’s father had been working at the house on his own over the years. He did a lot of work, but there was still much to do. Bringing the home back to its original splendour took Lynda and Ed another six years. They began on the exterior, where rot was creeping up the inside of the walls. Many of the studs had to be replaced through a process of bracing, removing, and installing new studs. The clapboard also had to be replaced on much of the lower portions of the first floor. It was during this work that Ed discovered the walls were filled with brick between the studs, which was then covered by horizontal boards.
The house has 16 fireplaces, with eight in each unit. They work, but they also need new liners. Heat is provided by electric heaters that look like the hot water heaters from days gone by.
When built in 1896 the home was wired with electricity and still has some of the original light fixtures and switches.
Throughout the renovation, the couple were guided by a desire to see the building returned to its original splendour, while also honouring the vision Lynda’s parents had for the place.
“My parents dream was to restore and repair the place,” she says.